Hyperpigmentation is skin pigmentation that appears as uneven skin tone. It often develops in the form of dark spots, sun spots, and patchy discoloration on the skin. Unfortunately, it’s a skin condition that can take time to treat. Luckily, there several different kinds of over-the-counter skin care products like cleansers and face washes that can help this skin condition.
Today we’ll look at the 9 best face washes to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
There are a variety of triggers that can cause hyperpigmentation and dark spots:
- Sun Exposure: Sunlight triggers melanin formation. Melanin is the pigment in human skin, hair, and eyes that gives skin its color. Excess or prolonged sun exposure can lead to the overproduction of melanin. This type of hyperpigmentation may be called age spots or sun spots, and usually occurs on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun like your arms, hands, face, neck, and chest.
- Hormones: The type of hyperpigmentation that is triggered by hormone changes is called melasma. It often occurs in women during pregnancy and can also be triggered by oral contraceptive use.
- Injury: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs after the skin has been injured or wounded. As the skin heals discoloration may occur. Those that experience acne and breakouts often deal with hyperpigmentation in the form of post-acne marks.
- Medications and Illness: Certain medication and medical conditions also trigger hyperpigmentation, so be sure to consult with your doctor for a treatment plan.
How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation
Regardless of which treatment products you use for hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, it can’t be overstated enough: always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This helps to minimize your chances of developing hyperpigmentation in the first place.
The secret is to apply sunscreen even on days that it is cloudy, as you are still being exposed to the harmful rays of the sun when clouds are blocking the sun. You can also wear protective clothing in the sun and avoid the sun during the peak hours when it is the strongest during the day.
The Best Face Washes for Hyperpigmentation
Many of these face washes contain glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid that helps to resurface the skin and reduce uneven skin tone and discoloration. If you use a product that contains glycolic acid or any other exfoliating acid, be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day with an SPF of 30 or higher while using these products and for 7 days after.
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Brightening Foaming Cream Cleanser is a foaming cream cleanser formulated to brighten dull and uneven skin tones. This deep cleanser removes dirt, oil, and other impurities and brightens the skin tone through gentle exfoliation.
This brightening face wash is formulated with lipohydroxy acid (LHA), a derivative of salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid. LHA exfoliates the skin and penetrates slowly, making it less likely to irritate the skin. LHA has even been shown to stimulate collagen and elastin production.
This fragranced cleanser creates a creamy foam and helps to combat dullness, hyperpigmentation, discoloration, and uneven skin tone. It rinses cleanly leaving skin soft and radiant. It’s ideal for combination, oily and acne prone skin.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser is formulated with glycolic acid to remove makeup, dirt, oil and other impurities from the skin. If used regularly it will help to reduce the look of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, age spots, congestion and dullness. It will also reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines, and old acne marks.
This glycolic acid cleanser also contains Chamomile, Marshmallow, Sage, St. John’s Wort, and Yarrow extracts to soothe, refresh and balance the skin. It is formulated to be used one to three times a week as a supplemental cleanser. Replace your regular cleanser with this cleanser a few times a week based on your skin type:
- Dry to Combination Skin: Use 1-2 times per week
- Combination and Oily Skin: Use 2-3 times per week
You can also use this cleanser on breakouts or uneven skin tone on your chest and back. Apply 1-3 times per week in the shower with a sponge. Please note that this fragranced foaming cleanser should not be used with topical prescriptions, or on acne-erupted, or sensitive skin.
Eve Hansen Vitamin C Cleanser uses antioxidant vitamin C to brighten, smooth, and rejuvenate the skin. Vitamin C targets dark spots, sun spots, redness, fine lines, and wrinkles and improves firmness and elasticity.
Ideal for all skin types, this gel face wash deeply cleanses pores, evens out skin tone and texture and goes to work on discoloration.
Tea tree oil helps to reduce acne and breakouts. Rosehip oil hydrates and nourishes the skin while organic aloe soothes and reduces inflammation.
This brightening cleanser foams up when emulsified with water and leaves skin balanced and refreshed. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free and made in the USA.
Body Merry Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser is formulated to cleanse and brighten the skin with 2.5% glycolic acid, willow bark, jojoba beads, and several other plant-based extracts and oils. Kojic acid brightens and even skins tone by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for melanin formation. Melanin is the pigment in our skin that gives it its color.
It also contains rosehip seed oil, which offers antioxidant and wrinkle-reducing properties while brightening and even out skin tone. Organic aloe vera soothes and offers anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil is an emollient that moisturizes the skin.
If you are looking to prevent or treat acne and breakouts, this cleanser also helps to decongest clogged pores and remove dead skin cells, dirt, and excess oil. Tea tree oil in the formula offers antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Willow bark extract has toning and astringent properties and can potentially help to prevent acne.
For oily and acne prone skin, this cleanser can be used 4-5 times per week. For sensitive or dry skin it can be used 2-3 times per week.
SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser gently exfoliates while cleansing the skin to improve the look of skin tone and texture. This luxury cleanser combines naturally derived alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) with a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) and jojoba spheres to exfoliate and clear away excess sebum and dead skin cells for improved skin texture.
Alpha hydroxy acids included in the formula are lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, and malic acid, which are derived from bilberry extract, sugar cane extract, sugar maple extract, and citrus extracts. These water-soluble acids work on the surface of the skin to improve skin texture and luminosity.
Salicyclic acid, a BHA, is oil-soluble, so it penetrates pores deeply to decongest and remove impurities, blackheads and dead skin cells. Jojoba oil spheres provide a physical exfoliation while minimizing irritation. Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root extract, panthenol, and bisabolol soothe the skin.
If you are sensitive to essential oils or fragrance, please note that this facial cleanser contains lavender oil and orange peel oil.
InstaNatural Glycolic Cleanser deep cleanses and gently exfoliates with glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells while refreshing and brightening the skin. It also helps to reduce breakouts, the look of pores, wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, and discoloration.
Additional ingredients include arginine, which helps to reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines. Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile) Flower extract and Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit extracts soothe the skin.
Camellia Sinensis Leaf extract, also known as green tea extract, is an antioxidant that can help with DNA repair and protects against photoaging. Centella Asiatica extract repairs and moisturizes while Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf extract is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties.
The gel formula creates a gentle lather that leaves skin feeling fresh and renewed. With consistent use, skin will be brighter and smoother.
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Botanic Tree Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser is an exfoliating face wash that helps to fight hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and even acne scars. This cleanser uses 10% glycolic acid, salicylic acid, seaweed extract, and bamboo extract plus tea tree to target excess oil, dirt, and makeup and to clean out pores to minimize breakouts.
Pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid), helps to fade hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin while improving collagen production and reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, also known as Syn-Coll, supports collagen formation and improves the look of pores and skin texture, per the manufacturer.
Shea butter moisturizes and soothes the skin, while green tea extract, an antioxidant, offers anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits.
Please note that if you are sensitive to essential oils or fragrance, this cleanser contains peppermint oil and lavender oil. Made from 100% organic extracts ingredients, this face wash is ideal for both men and women with oily, acne prone, aging, and dull skin. Sulfate-free and paraben-free.
Dr Song Glycolic Acid Face Wash is a 10% glycolic acid face wash that deep cleans, exfoliates, and sweeps away build-up and dead skin cells. It targets hyperpigmentation, acne scars, discoloration, sun spots, age spots, enlarged pores, and breakouts.
This face wash also contains glycerin, a humectant that moisturizes the skin and aloe vera, an anti-inflammatory that soothes and heals the skin.
With continued use, wrinkles are smoothed, dark circles appear lighter and redness is diminished. This face cleanser is paraben-free, dry-free, oil-free and sulfate-free.
PCA Skin Pigment Bar is formulated to even out skin tone on the face, scalp and body. It uses a combination of powerhouse ingredients to bust hyperpigmentation, dark spots, discoloration and uneven skin tone:
- Azelaic Acid: Supports a clear complexion as it unclogs pores and evens out skin tone and texture. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and can even help with melasma.
- Kojic Acid: Targets hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin formation. Melanin is the pigment responsible for giving human skin, eyes, and hair their color.
- Niacinamide: A multi-benefit active that increases cell turnover, helping to brighten and even skin tone. It also helps restore the skin barrier and reduce the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
PCA Skin Pigment Bar is a solid cleansing bar. It comes with a sponge that you moisten and apply to the bar to create a rich lather. Apply the lather to your skin and leave it on for 2 minutes. This fragranced pigment bar can even be used with facial cleansing devices.
What Ingredients Fade Hyperpigmentation?
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or l-ascorbic acid, helps to fade hyperpigmentation, as it inhibits tyrosinase activity. Tyrosinase is an enzyme involved in melanin production. As previously noted, melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its color.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (i.e. Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid): Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, are chemical exfoliants that help to increase cell turnover. They remove dead skin cells to reveal brighter fresher skin. The result is brighter skin with a skin tone that is more even.
- Kojic Acid: Kojic acid inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production. More melanin causes excess pigmentation in the skin, so limiting melanin production helps reduce hyperpigmentation.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide has multiple benefits for the skin including the ability to brighten skin and reduce hyperpigmentation, as it inhibits melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes in the skin pigmentation process. Melanosomes are sacs found in melanocyte cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Niacinamide also helps to increase cell turnover.
- Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid, an oil-soluble beta hydroxy acid (BHA), is a chemical exfoliator that travels deep into pores to clear away congestion, excess sebum (oil), and dead skin cells and reduces the look of hyperpigmentation.
- Alpha Arbutin: Alpha arbutin is a water-soluble active that inhibits tyrosinase activity in pigment-producing cells, helping to reduce melanin production, thus fading hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
- Retinoids: Retinoids increase cell turnover by sloughing away pigmented cells as well as inhibiting tyrosinase in pigment producing-cells. Retinoids used over longer periods of time decrease melanin content, as well as helps to decrease the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
- Azelaic Acid: Like other actives in this list, azelaic acid inhibits tyrosinase activity to reduce pigment intensity. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help with redness, acne, and breakouts.
- Tranexamic Acid: Tranexamic acid helps to reduce pigmentation formation and has the potential to be a treatment for melasma.
Final Thoughts on the Best Face Washes for Hyperpigmentation
When it comes to over-the-counter products for pigmentation and skin discoloration, there is no magic bullet that will provide instant results, but if you incorporate a face wash for hyperpigmentation into your skincare routine like one of the face washes listed in this post, with continued use you should start seeing results.
You can add to your arsenal of hyperpigmentation and dark spot fighting products by adding a serum to your skincare routine with proven brightening ingredients. This 5% tranexamic acid serum for dark spots and melasma from Naturium also contains kojic acid, niacinamide, and licorice root for added brightening. This affordable azelaic acid serum from Cos de Baha also contains 10% azelaic acid plus niacinamide, panthenol, and hydrating hyaluronic acid.
If you are not seeing an improvement in stubborn hyperpigmentation and dark spots with over-the-counter products, consider visiting a dermatologist. There are professional treatments that can improve hyperpigmentation like chemical peels and laser therapy.
Until next time, here’s to your good skin health!
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